Perhaps we should start by defining the term mindfulness. According to the publication “Mindful: healthy mind, healthy living”, mindfulness is:
“…the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Put simply, it’s about paying attention to the here and now. However, that still begs the question: How does it help us?
Do you often feel anxious and worried? Do you get irritable, argumentative or defensive? Do you often feel exhausted, or have difficulty concentrating? If you answered yes to any of these, the odds are that you’re suffering from stress. There are many more symptoms, and you’re not alone. Stress is common, and unmanaged, can lead to both personal and professional problems. Just imagine the negative effect a stressed person’s attitude and behaviour could have on the whole crew’s morale mid-season. You may well have already seen it. Arguments, difficulty working together, crew leaving unexpectedly – even bullying, as we discussed in last month’s article.
Mindfulness teaches us to exercise control over our thought processes, and by extension our emotions, as our emotions are driven by our thoughts. Better emotional regulation leads to more consistently positive moods and an improved ability to handle both yourself and potentially stressful situations. Mindfulness is a proven method for alleviating and managing stress and can easily be learned without any special training. As such, it’s ideal for on-the-job and day-to-day stress management.
Research has also found that people who practice mindfulness regularly receive other health benefits too, ranging from recovering from illnesses more quickly to improved eating habits and being less prone to suffer from depression.
So now we know the benefits – how do we do mindfulness?
You don’t need huge amounts of time and even starting with 5-10 minutes a day will bring benefits. Begin by finding a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. You may wish to set a soft alarm to stop you checking the time. There are no rules about sitting, standing, lying, walking, so just choose whatever feels comfortable for you.
Step 1: Begin to calm your mind. It’s natural for your thoughts to be all over the place, but try and bring the focus to where you are. Concentrate on what you can see and feel and ignore outside distractions.
Step 2: Bring your attention to your breathing, and concentrate on taking deep, slow inhales, and long, slow exhales.
Step 3: If thoughts come into your mind, acknowledge them and gently release them. Acknowledge the emotional reactions they cause and release those too. You are in control of your thoughts and in turn your emotions.
Step 4: If you find you’ve become distracted, either by thoughts or outside factors, just draw your attention gently back to your breathing. It takes practice, so be patient both with yourself and the process.
In life, our thoughts often jump to the future or dwell on the past, causing emotional responses that impact our present situation. Mindfulness teaches us to focus on the here and now, and once you have practiced for a while you will be able to use the technique to help yourself to live in the present moment, whether you’re working or playing. You will have the ability to be more focused and productive, to effectively manage your emotions, and to reduce the stress you experience. All by starting with five minutes a day.
In the words of Albert Einstein “Learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow.”
Here at Impact Crew we have a team of highly experienced coaches who can work with you in confidence over the phone or via Skype to expand your range of people management skills and deal with your emotions. The industry is awash with courses to help increase crew’s professional skills. When you find yourself in a leadership role, 80% of your time is about dealing with people, so give yourself a fighting chance and develop yourself in these skills too.
Karen Passman of Impact Crew
t: +44 (0)1425 614 419